My decision process

While story is king, the camera and lenses used are very important to bring this story to life. Not every camera is perfect for every commercial. When working on a project, the cinematographer and I decide together which camera will do the best job. However, cameras and lenses are generally not top of mind to most clients we work with. Most people know 4K is becoming the standard and agency art directors have an idea of the top of the line cameras but besides preferring the Alexa look there isn’t always a lot of understanding of why we use certain cameras for certain projects. Below, I have gone more in-depth into some of my favourite projects from a director's perspective. Diving into the decision making process for each specific camera kit per project.

Arri Alexa Mini Film Camera
Arri Alexa Mini on my commercial shoot for HUAWEI

HOYTS Lux with Manu Feildel

A cinema commercial starring My Kitchen Rules star Manu Feildel
  • Camera & Lens Kit: Arri Alexa Mini with Leica Summicron lenses
  • Director: Vikash Autar
  • Cinematographer: Josh Flavell
  • Client & Agency: HOYTS | Dentsu Australia

For this shoot we closed off one of Sydney’s busiest cinemas for the day. The Alexa Mini was supported by a large crew with high-end grip and lighting packages. The goal was to create a cinematic piece that would fit perfectly in-between the pre-show trailers. Since we did not require very high resolutions or frame rates, had a decent budget to work with, and wanted to achieve one of the nicest film looks in the business, the Alexa was the obvious choice. The Alexa Mini also worked great because we had to be able to change set-ups quickly. Switching from shots on a Chapman dolly to dynamic hand-held shots using an easyrig was simple due to its compact profile.

Arri Alexa Mini Camera on shoot
Arri Alexa Mini operated by Josh Flavell on my commercial shoot for HOYTS

Qantas Sides of Singapore

Branded Travel Content starring MasterChef contestant Hayden Quinn
  • Camera & Lens Kit: Sony FS7 Mark I with Fujinon Cine Lens MK Series
  • Director: Vikash Autar
  • Cinematographer: James Gilligan
  • Client & Agency: Qantas | Dentsu Australia

This shoot had us travelling through Singapore with a medium-sized crew as we created fast-paced cinematic travel content starring Hayden Quinn from MasterChef. We chose the Sony FS7 because it’s a great camera to shoot travel commercials and content with. As a director, I wanted to create a piece that is cinematic and would capture Singapore beautifully, but I also wanted to make sure we could move fast and be able to capture lots of content. The Sony FS7 allows quick switching between standard and slow-motion frame rates and can shoot high-quality without massive data sizes. This meant the camera crew did not lose many hours backing up during the shoot and kept us moving quickly.

The Fujinon MK Lens series provided a great balance between beautiful cinema glass and being able to move fast. The cine lenses are zoom lenses which made us able to quickly adjust shots without losing time switching to prime lenses. It allowed us to get lots of great in the moment shots of street vendors, animals and the people of Singapore. As a bonus the lenses also do not lose focus when zooming in or out which gave the crew a lot of confidence when quickly framing up a shot.

Sony FS7 camera kit on shoot
Sony FS7 Kit in Action on location in Japan

Breville Get Loose

A range of upbeat rhythmic commercials for Breville's new tea maker range
  • Camera & Lens Kit: RED Epic Weapon with Canon Cine Lens Prime Kit
  • Director: Vikash Autar
  • Cinematographer: Goldie Soetianto
  • Client & Agency: Breville | Common Ventures

In this production we showed off Breville’s new tea maker range with lots of spectacle and colourful loose leaf tea. I wanted to capture the tea making process up close and wanted to play around with time and slow-motion in the edit. Since slow-motion and a high-resolution image for macro shots were very important we opted for the RED Epic. The RED allowed us to capture footage up to 8K and up to 300 FPS in 2K. Canon Cine lenses were combined with Canon Macro lenses to create a clean cinematic look that fitted the Breville brand.

Huawei FreeBuds 3

Commercial to promote Huawei's new FreeBuds 3
  • Camera & Lens Kit: Arri Alexa Mini with Arri / Zeiss Ultra Primes
  • Director: Vikash Autar
  • Cinematographer: Rusty Foulkes
  • Client: Huawei

We created this online commercial in Hong Kong for Huawei’s new FreeBuds 3. As a client and a Chinese technology brand, Huawei is determined to get the highest quality image for their commercials. The cinematographer and I wanted to get the most out of the available budget and since no high frames rates or high resolutions were required, we opted for the Arri Alexa Mini. As with the project for HOYTS the Alexa Mini allowed us to switch quickly from a tripod to a hand held easyrig set up. The Arri / Zeiss ultra primes also provided a very sharp and clean beautiful look fitting for a high-end brand.

Arri Alexa Mini Camera on set

Masters of Japan

Cinematic travel mini-documentaries to promote travel to Akita Prefecture
  • Camera & Lens Kit: Sony FS7 Mark I with Fujinon Cine Lens MK Series
  • Director: Vikash Autar
  • Cinematographer: James Gilligan
  • Client: Akita Prefecture Government

This series of short cinematic travel documentaries was created to highlight the amazing personas of Japan’s Akita Prefecture and to promote tourism to the region. We travelled through the remote region for 2 weeks with a micro-crew to create the content. The journey took us to the ocean, hidden onsen and even had us climb a 3-kilometre high mountain. We chose the Sony FS7 and Fujinon Cine Lenses because they are ideal to be used by a smaller crew. The camera produces a really nice image, and together with the zoom cine lenses allowed us to capture a lot of shots quickly. The entire kit is also extremely portable, which is important, and the data rates are low but produce high quality. With most other cameras we wouldn’t have been able to create this type of quality with just a crew of 3 people.

Sony FS7 Camera Shot in Snow
Battling snow and severe weather in rural Japan with the Sony FS7